Looking Back at 2017


2017 was the year for Rockaway with the boardwalk finally being finished and the ferry making its comeback, but plenty more happened in between. Here are some highlights from each issue of The Rockaway Times (RT) this year.

January 5: The RT profiled Ronnie McCarthy, who still leads the Breezy Point Arts and Crafts program at 95-years-young. There was also a great recap of the New Year’s Day plunge with photos from Peter Brady and others who braved the waves.

January 12: The week before, it was cold enough to freeze over Jamaica Bay. The last nuns at St. Francis de Sales Church, Sisters Paul, Patricia and Patricia, said their goodbyes as they were relocating to Rockville Center.

January 19: The RT profiled John Joseph, frontman for the Cro-Mags turned Ironman, who had some tough beginnings in Rockaway. A transformer explosion near Beach 92nd Street illuminated the skies and caused alarm among residents. A local group of anti-Trump women were on their way to Washington, D.C. to protest the soon-to-be inaugurated President Trump at the Women’s March.

January 26: Construction began on the ferry landing at Beach 108th, giving locals hope that word of the ferry coming back may actually be true. Call-a-Head in Broad Channel was causing traffic concerns. The RT got on top of the issue and Call-A-Head said they were being addressed. Liz Hanna and Pat Nash were honored at the Graybeards Dinner on January 28. Stacey Pheffer Amato was sworn in as assemblywoman on January 22.

February 2: Local women were gearing up for a 13.1-mile run to raise funds for John Hudson, a young boy suffering from the life-threatening condition, Epidermolysis Bullosa. The Queens Public Transit Committee was out in full force, discussing the ramifications of the future Select Bus Service. Broad Channel’s Anna O’Connor, in remission from leukemia, won a Caring Kids Award for holding a successful toy drive for kids undergoing cancer treatments at Cohen Children's Hospital. The Ladies of Business of Rockaway Beach formed. Residents of Beach 127th got word from the Parks Department that a flag placed at the beach wall in memory of FDNY Lt. Joe Agnello, would have to come down for baffle wall construction. Local businesses were gearing up for Super Bowl.

February 9: A big case of bullying caused concern at PS 114. Trishia Bermudez was profiled for starting Perfect Piece of the Puzzle, a group to help financially-disadvantaged families get services for their special needs children.

February 16: Four locals were arrested in connection with scams over Sandy-impacted homes. Charlie Braun, 13, had big dreams of going to the 2017 World YoYo Contest in Iceland.

February 23: The RT announced the start of the 2nd Annual Photo Contest. Baker Tracy Obolsky announced Rockaway Beach Bakery would be going brick-and-mortar on Beach 88th Street. Black Surfing Rockaway hosted its first of many free cooking classes at local restaurants on the peninsula. News spread of a new beer garden coming to town—Liquid Bread.

March 2: Well that came quick. It was time for the 42nd Annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Beach 59th Street Playground was getting some upgrades with funding from the city.  Ocean Bliss Yoga moved to their new home at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club. The Rockaway Business Alliance began to form, representing businesses from Beach 43rd to Riis Park.

March 9: The RT recapped the St. Paddy’s Day parade, which turned out to be a cold one. Myrtle Beach, SC got a taste of Rockaway with a Far Rockaway-themed restaurant.

March 16: Local musician Joe Popp was gearing up for a 48-state music tour by motorcycle.

March 23: The old Tubridy’s Bar was razed to make room for the future Rockaway Beach Hotel. Two Beach 120th Street properties that were used in a Hurricane Sandy-related scam went up for auction. A fire broke out at 102-00 Shore Front Parkway. One on One Physical Therapy on Beach 116th was getting ready to open.

March 30: Monika Wroblewski recalled the harrowing events of the fire that destroyed her family’s apartment at 102-00 Shore Front Parkway. A new program aiming to counteract drug overdoses by providing free Naloxone, launched in Rockaway. RAA artist Susan Hartenstein passed away on March 26. Councilman Ulrich announced that Shore Front Parkway would be repaved.

April 6: The Downtown Far Rockaway revitalization project gained support from Community Board 14. On April 4, a 30-ft humpback whale washed up dead on Beach 117th Street.

April 13: The City announced that the ferry would be starting in May as opposed to June. Mazzone Hardware was set to open, replacing the former Brown’s Hardware store on Beach 116th. The RT won 2nd place for Best Overall Use of Social Media at the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

April 20: The RT photo contest was closed to entries, with more than 1,000 photos submitted.

April 27: A walk was being held for baby Ryan Williams, who suffers from a congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

May 4: Rockaway celebrated the return of the ferry on May 1. Taste of Rockaway was set for that weekend. Cashless tolling went into effect on Rockaway’s bridges on April 30.

May 11: Sculptures started to appear on Shore Front Parkway as part of the extensive 14 Sculptors on the Rock exhibit. CB 14 shot down bringing metered parking to Shore Front Parkway.

May 18: Holocaust survivor Ruth Pagirsky shared her horrific story. The Marcal Group released renderings of the One Sixteen condo project coming to Beach 116th. New summer concessions were in the works for Edgemere.

May 25: Beaches opened for the season and the boardwalk was finally complete. The BLVD Project, a new beer garden and public art display on Beach 108th was announced.

June 1: Drone photos from Eddy Pastore showed the clear need for jetties on the beach.  Free sunscreen dispensers came to the boardwalk, as well as poster-sized photos featuring RT photo contest finalists. The Beach 127th Street flag was removed. The 5th annual Rockaway/Breezy Point Irish Festival was set for the weekend.

June 8: Voting began for the RT photo contest. Firefighter Peter Brady won a medal for rescuing a woman in a Brooklyn fire. The Breezy Point BayHouse finally reopened after being rebuilt from Sandy. Former RT reporter Dylan Watton announced that he’d be on Jeopardy on June 13.

June 15: The RT paid tribute to local dads for Father’s Day. The ferry was proving to be a hit with boats being overcrowded. Author Jill Eisenstadt released her new novel, Swell. Senator Sanders called for safety measures at crossings in Arverne, following an accident that injured a woman and her toddlers.

June 22: The RT celebrated its 3rd anniversary. Rumors of LaQuinta Hotel becoming a homeless shelter were becoming more true. Rockstock and Barrels was coming that weekend. The Beach 80th Flea Market was coming in July.

June 29: Happy July 4! The Walk for the Shore Rally was held to demand jetties and beach protection. FDNY was getting ready to battle Birmingham in a boxing match featuring grudge matches with locals TJ McVeigh and Jimmy Frontera. Actor Ed Burns was in town filming a movie.

July 6: Jennifer Keim took first place in the RT photo contest, winning $500 for her sunset wave photo. A huge double rainbow led to smiles and great photos. Avoid the Day, a pop-up book bar was coming. Someone chartered a plane carrying the message “Hey Piggy! Take Ur Trash With U.”

July 13: The Warriors were in town with Hope for the Warriors. The first Rock! Away! Music festival came to Riis Park.

July 20: Mazzone Ace Hardware celebrated its grand opening. The RT told the story of Jessie Zimmer who just married Craig Richardson, a British wounded warrior she met during a 2009 Wounded Warrior weekend..

July 27: Whit’s End was kicked out of Riis Park. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz gave the okay on moving the Beach 116th firehouse to the old HSBC bank despite CB 14 turning it down.

August 3: The RT held another successful Sandcastle Contest.  Arverne by the Sea broke ground on their new development—the Tides. The owner of the neglected Sand Bar said negotiations were underway for something new. Terra Glamping announced a “glamping” program coming to Fort Tilden.

August 10: The RT exposed emails showing that the developer of the old Courthouse had other plans besides a medical center for the building. A street was named after fallen Far Rockaway Police Officer Det. Randolph Holder. Local icon Dean Georges passed away.

August 17: Rockaway geared up for the almost total solar eclipse. Caribbean Carnival came to Far Rockaway. The City put a stop to a bike-sharing program that was coming to the peninsula. Arverne was dealing with a menacing mosquito problem.

August 24: Peninsula Library hosted a 31-hour festival. The Far Rockaway rezoning plan made big progress in City Council.

August 31: Labor Day weekend was here.

September 7: Firefighters hel­ped rescue families from a fire on Beach 91st Street. Local kids raised money for Hurricane Harvey victims. Fit Food opened up on the bayside.

September 14: Rockaway got ready for the 3rd annual Poseidon’s Parade. The Downtown Far Rockaway project passed the final threshold in the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.  The Bugalou concert series, featuring famous acts and local bands, was announced. Uri Kaufman, owner of the courthouse, finally revealed some of his plans to turn it into a medical center. Locals reflected on 9/11.

September 21: Locals John Carlin and George Johnson returned from an inspiring trip helping families in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. Camp Rockaway was finally becoming a reality after being awarded a pilot opportunity at Fort Tilden.

September 28: Rockaway was rallying to help those hit by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Julia Steinberg took over Riis Park Beach Bazaar with her winter restaurant, The Dropout. Mayoral hopeful Assemblywoman Nicole Mallioatakis visited Neponsit. Rockaway Business Alliance hosted the first Rock-A-Block Blvd festival. The former Army center in Fort Tilden was approved as an NYPD training center, rather than a homeless shelter.

October 5: The City announced that bigger ferry boats were being made for 2018. Rockaway’s drug problem became a harsh reality when several young people died due to overdoses. The 14 Sculptors art exhibit came to an end.

October 12: Migrating monarch butterflies took over the skies. The City awarded $7 million toward the Sunset Cover restoration project in Broad Channel.

October 19: Cashless tolling was turning out to be a nightmare for several residents hit with thousands of dollars in fines.  Brown composting bins were delivered around the peninsula. Mayor de Blasio announced 3K (free public school for three-year-olds) for all would be coming to Rockaway and Broad Channel schools.

October 26: The RT marked the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, showing Rockaway fought hard to come back, but the fight continues with a need for more coastal protection. Rockaway also got ready for Halloween.

November 2: Election season was upon us with the big local race between Councilman Eric Ulrich and Mike Scala. The Mayor came to Rockaway to announce resiliency projects that were getting funding from money left over from the boardwalk project. Another rally was held to send a message to the Army Corps that more coastal protection is needed. A stabbing occurred at a Dayton building, resulting in a cop shooting the perp. Locals were gearing up to run the NYC Marathon.

November 9: A Cold War veteran plane took off from Floyd Bennett Field after 15 years. The RT looked in to the long-abandoned Chai Home. Eric Ulrich won re-election. So did de Blasio. The old Playland Motel sold for $2.3 million. The Rockaway Theatre Company’s Rockaway Café returned one last time.

November 16: The Little North Pole lit up early for the filming of the TV show, The Great Christmas Light Fight. Rockaway Point, Breezy Point and Roxbury Communities-- A photographic book showing the history of Breezy Point was published. Select Bus Service launched from Rockaway to Woodhaven Boulevard.

November 22: Happy Thanksgiving! Cracks in a boardwalk ramp at Beach 92nd Street due to rising tides proved that the peninsula is in need of protection. A meeting was held to discuss a new natural gas pipeline project proposed by Williams.  Drama arose at Dayton Beach Park as the Department of Housing Preservation and Development threw out a board vote due to suspected voter fraud. Rockaway Beach continued to flourish with the addition of new Caribbean, Peruvian and Japanese restaurants, and the return of Whit’s End.

November 30: A Rockaway-bound ferry got stranded just after taking off from Pier 11.

December 7: Mayor Bill de Blasio came uptown for a Town Hall where he answered residents’ questions. A devastating fire on December 3 left several families homeless and killed 12-year-old TJ Curley. Broad Channel was hit with a series of car break-ins and thefts.

December 14: A minke whale washed up dead by the Silver Gull Beach Club. Rockaway rang in the holidays with tree lightings, menorah lightings and more.

December 21: The Santa 5K was another holiday hit! Frustrations increased with continuous closures of the Marine Parkway Bridge. A huge, new cellphone tower popped up on Rockaway Beach Drive so the Rockaway Beach Hotel could begin construction. The Department of Education announced that two local schools, MS53 and PS42, are slated to close at the end of the school year.

We can't wait to see what's in store for 2018!

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